A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:25 pm

Subject: Minor agreements against gMark
Bernard Muller wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 10:16 am
Does anyone counteracted these minor agreements?
Inspired by the recent thread about the minor agreements, and kind of enjoying a brief foray back into the synoptic problem, I looked up some of these minor agreements of Matthew against Luke, and the following one struck my eye as a sort of example of the complications that this entire issue tends to bring up.

Q skeptic Mark Goodacre takes a look at Matthew 22.27 = Mark 12.22b = Luke 20.32:

Matthew 22.27: 27 “Later than all, the woman died.” / 27 ὕστερον δὲ πάντων ἀπέθανεν ἡ γυνή.

Mark 12.22b: 22b “Last of all, the woman died also.” / 22b ἔσχατον πάντων καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν.

Luke 20.32: 32 “Later, the woman died also.” / 32 ὕστερον καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν.

Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q, pages 154-155: 154-155 The word ὕστερον (“later”) is a particular favorite of Matthew’s and occurs seven times in his Gospel in total. In Matt 21:37 (Wicked Husbandmen) the same substitution, ὕστερον (“later”) for ἔσχατον (“last,” Mark 12:6), occurs in a similar context — ὕστερον (“later”) is the word Matthew uses for representing the last in a series and it means something like “finally.” The word is a bit unusual; outside of Matthew’s seven usages and this one parallel in Luke, it occurs only twice elsewhere in the whole of the New Testament. It seems far more plausible that Luke has taken over an idiosyncratic Matthean word usage here than that both Matthew and Luke have independently coincided in substituting the same word.

There is no denying that Matthew is comfortable with this usage of ὕστερον (Matthew 4.2; 21.29, 32, 37; 22.27; 25.11; 26.60). That Luke, who never uses it elsewhere, should change Mark's ἔσχατον (which he also never uses elsewhere as an adverb, and which appears in the rest of the NT as an adverb only in 1 Corinthians 15.8) to ὕστερον independently of Matthew does seem unlikely. If he did not like Mark's ἔσχατον, he could have gone with εἶτα ("then," "next," Luke 8.12), ἔπειτα ("then," "next," Luke 16.7), τότε ("then," "at that time," multiple instances throughout Luke-Acts), δέ ("and," "but," often used to get to the next event in a story), or even with something like μετὰ ταῦτα ("after these things," "after this," about 5-6 times each in Luke and Acts).

The manuscripts are of no help in relieving us of assuming that Matthew and Luke are less than independent. Matthew 22.27 has no variants that I can find which would do a thing to explain this agreement. Luke 20.32 has the feminine adjective ὕστερα instead of the adverb ὕστερον in Washingtonianus, but even the adjective would constitute an agreement with Matthew against Mark. Mark 12.22, on the other hand, evinces a lot of textual variation, including the feminine adjective ἐσχάτη instead of the adverb ἔσχατον in Alexandrinus; none of the variants that I can find, however, have the ὕστερον which would explain Luke 20.32.

So case closed, right? Luke must have drawn upon Matthew at this point in his narrative.

Except... really? I perused the SQE at this pericope (#281) and decided to create a composite image of the synopsis:

SQE 281 Coded.png
SQE 281 Coded.png (552.95 KiB) Viewed 5316 times

I moved through the columns fairly quickly, underlining significant agreements between any two of the gospels using a simple color code. Matthew is blue, Mark is red, and Luke is green. If you find blue underlining in Mark or Luke, then that means that Matthew is agreeing with Mark or Luke for those words or phrases. If you find red underlining in Matthew or Luke, then that means that Mark is agreeing with Matthew or Luke for those words or phrases. And, if you find green underlining in Matthew or Mark, then that means that Luke is agreeing with Matthew or Mark for those words or phrases. I did not select every single agreement, since some of them are meaningless or easily explained on the grounds of well established writing patterns. But you can go through and see for yourself whether I was fair or not to all possible solutions to the synoptic problem. (I did not mark triple agreements, of which there are plenty, because triple agreements do not favor any solution over another.)

It is very noticeable that Matthew and Mark agree against Luke a number of times, and it is equally noticeable that Luke and Mark agree with Matthew a number of times. Both sets of agreements include both words and phrases. It seems indisputable that there is a literary connection between Matthew and Mark and also a literary connection between Mark and Luke. But, as I try to find Matthew and Luke agreeing against Mark in any significant way, all I seem to come up with is (A) the prefixed πρός right in the first verse of the pericope and (B) the ὕστερον agreement highlighted by Goodacre. The mutual addition of πρός to the main verb, in a context of Sadducees coming to or toward Jesus, seems to me to be innocuous; it could easily be coincidental: a smaller coincidence than two editors independently changing "went into" to "entered." The mutual change of ἔσχατον to ὕστερον, however, is more serious, as Goodacre surmises.

And yet what does that particular point of agreement do for us? On Goodacre's preferred Farrer theory, it seems to imply that Luke copied his entire pericope from Mark with the exception of that single word, for which he relied upon Matthew instead of upon his own wordsmanship. Faced with an adverb in Mark which he never uses elsewhere, he decided to change it out for a different adverb which he never uses elsewhere, simply because Matthew, whose text exercised no recognizable influence on him at any other point of the pericope, has done so. Why would he rather not have just gone with something he is more accustomed to? Those available options I have listed above (εἶτα, ἔπειτα, τότε, δὲ, μετὰ ταῦτα), as well as more that I have not listed, show both (A) how striking the agreement between Matthew and Luke is and (B) how strange it is that Luke would opt for the word which created this agreement instead of any of a number of more likely choices.

If Matthew had offered a bit of handy information absent from Mark, or perhaps an alternate and simultaneously more attractive version of information present in Mark, it would be quite understandable that Luke should select Matthew over Mark; and this sort of procedure is one very viable option for how things might have happened in the so called Mark-Q agreements. But here? For this? I do not buy it. At least, the solution does not satisfy. It does not sound like what Luke really did.

So do I opt for a textual solution? Maybe Luke, already copying Mark anyway, copied Mark's ἔσχατον and then a later scribe harmonized it with the more popular Matthew's ὕστερον. That kind of harmonization (changing either Mark or Luke to match Matthew) happened all the time. But this particular instance of such harmonization? Completely unattested. So I would be just assuming that the harmonization happened in between the autograph and the archetype of Luke. Certainly possible, but it is also possible that Luke used Matthew just for this single word, or maybe kind of had Matthew's lingo running through his head while he was deciding how to alter Mark here... or something. And I feel like I do not have enough information to tell which of the possibilities is more or less likely.

Or hey, does Marcion help? Well, Luke 20.32 is apparently unattested for Marcion. Maybe Marcion had some other (but necessarily bland or noncontroversial) transition into the resurrection question besides the death of the woman. Or maybe Marcion had exactly what Luke has, or even what Matthew has, but the verse was not important enough for Tertullian's or Epiphanius' purposes to write about. Not attested means not attested (as opposed to attested as absent or attested as present); therefore, Marcion is of no actual help for this one.

So I wind up in this case at a spot I know very, very well: not sure.

YMMV. Let me know where I have gone wrong.

Ben.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by mlinssen » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:07 pm

Ah Ben, perfectly smooth and solid reasoning, sorry.
Smoking gun, red hot. Perhaps you could get word frequency in general back then but we all use only our own vocabulary, and hardly ever anything else

Yesterday I used the word cautious somewhere, where I'm usually use careful - I use the latter for almost everything LOL

I think I haven't used the word cautious in years, perhaps decades. And the only possible reason for me to use it is that I saw it somewhere, heard it, read it - got inspired by someone else but myself

No, this is it. If your word math is correct, and what else could it be, then this attests to a mutual written source.
I really love Mark, he is a very meticulous and fairly objective scholar. He gets dismissive sometimes when it comes to Thomas but hey, other than that he's by far my most favourite biblical scholar

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:32 pm

mlinssen wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:07 pm
Yesterday I used the word cautious somewhere, where I'm usually use careful - I use the latter for almost everything LOL

I think I haven't used the word cautious in years, perhaps decades. And the only possible reason for me to use it is that I saw it somewhere, heard it, read it - got inspired by someone else but myself
That can sure happen. Another thing that can happen is scribal harmonization predating the archetype. How does one calculate the odds of each contingency (whether directly or indirectly)? What method works for such a calculation? Hence the dilemma.

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by mlinssen » Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:49 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:32 pm
mlinssen wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:07 pm
Yesterday I used the word cautious somewhere, where I'm usually use careful - I use the latter for almost everything LOL

I think I haven't used the word cautious in years, perhaps decades. And the only possible reason for me to use it is that I saw it somewhere, heard it, read it - got inspired by someone else but myself
That can sure happen. Another thing that can happen is scribal harmonization predating the archetype. How does one calculate the odds of each contingency (whether directly or indirectly)? What method works for such a calculation? Hence the dilemma.
Well, it never is a question of either-or indeed.
Calculation? Of "scribal harmonization predating the archetype"?

Is telepathy involved there? How can you change something before it exists?

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 am

mlinssen wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:49 pm
Is telepathy involved there? How can you change something before it exists?
After the autograph, but before the archetype.

Textual Criticism.png
Textual Criticism.png (22.91 KiB) Viewed 5288 times

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by mlinssen » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:31 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 am
mlinssen wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:49 pm
Is telepathy involved there? How can you change something before it exists?
After the autograph, but before the archetype.


Textual Criticism.png
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a phenomenon like this, similar to that of 'oral memory' and 'layered traditions', would be impossible to prove or deny?

It would be infallible, just like Global Warming with its buddy Climate Change? It can't be falsified?

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:22 am

mlinssen wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:31 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 am
mlinssen wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:49 pm
Is telepathy involved there? How can you change something before it exists?
After the autograph, but before the archetype.


Textual Criticism.png
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a phenomenon like this, similar to that of 'oral memory' and 'layered traditions', would be impossible to prove or deny?
On the particulars, precisely. In general terms, it is easy to see that harmonization at that stage must have happened. In specific terms, it is impossible to prove any one suggestion of it having happened. Similarly, in general terms, it is easy to see that a person could get a stray word into his or her head, and that such a stray word, however uncharacteristic, could come out on the page even while in the midst of copying from a completely different source. In specific terms, it is impossible to prove any one suggestion of such a thing having happened.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:31 am

For reference, the immediate context of the M-L agreement:

Matthew 21.25-28 = Mark 12.20-23 = Luke 20.29-33.png
Matthew 21.25-28 = Mark 12.20-23 = Luke 20.29-33.png (57.23 KiB) Viewed 5230 times

Immediately before the agreement of Matthew and Luke on ὕστερον, against Mark's ἔσχατον, Luke has copied Mark's ἔλαβεν αὐτήν and his ὡσαύτως (albeit applying them slightly differently than Mark did), copied Mark's καὶ οἱ (where Matthew takes a different approach), and changed Mark's οὐκ ἀφῆκαν σπέρμα into οὐ κατέλιπον τέκνα καὶ ἀπέθανον (where Matthew has nothing). Immediately after the agreement, Luke copies Mark's καί (where Matthew has δέ) and then copies Mark's word order for ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν (where Matthew has ἀπέθανεν ἡ γυνή).

The two significant phrases which Matthew and Luke both eliminate from Mark (καὶ ἀπέθανεν μὴ καταλιπὼν σπέρμα, ὅταν ἀναστῶσιν) are each redundant and completely unnecessary. That two independent editors should choose to eliminate them seems unremarkable.

That single word, ὕστερον, stands out in the Lucan text like a Matthean islet in a Marcan lake. And it makes no difference semantically, theologically, or in any other way beyond mere word choice.

Such is the nature of the synoptic problem.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8564
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:59 am

An amusing little game to play with synopses is to extract only the triple tradition, word by represented word, and then to read the result. There are two versions of this game: strict and lenient. The strict version excludes words which are not of the same root, at least, across all three synoptic gospels. The lenient version includes words which may not be of the same root, but which fulfill exactly the same function across all three gospels; in such cases, if the gospels number two against one, take the two; if all three differ, take the most grammatical in context; if all are equally grammatical, take the most compact:

Strict: ἑπτὰ ἀδελφοὶ ἦσαν· καὶ ὁ πρῶτος, καὶ ὁ δεύτερος, καὶ ὁ τρίτος, ὡς οἱ ἑπτὰ. ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν. ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τίνος γυνή; οἱ γὰρ ἔσχον αὐτὴν. / There were seven brothers. And the first, and the second, and the third, as the seven. The wife died. In the resurrection, of whom the wife? For they had her.

Lenient: ἑπτὰ ἀδελφοὶ ἦσαν· καὶ ὁ πρῶτος λαβὼν γυναῖκα ἀπέθανεν ἄτεκνος, καὶ ὁ δεύτερος, καὶ ὁ τρίτος, ὡς οἱ ἑπτὰ. ὕστερον ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν. ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τίνος αὐτῶν ἔσται γυνή; οἱ γὰρ ἑπτὰ ἔσχον αὐτὴν. / There were seven brothers. And the first, having taken a wife, died childless, and the second, and the third, as the seven. Later the wife died. In the resurrection, of which of them will she be the wife? For the seven had her.

The result comes out like this often enough: something which sounds almost Mishnaic in its compression. The lenient one, in this case, actually makes a fairly cogent story.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kunigunde Kreuzerin
Posts: 1470
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:19 pm
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Contact:

Re: A sample of (one of) my issue(s) with the synoptic problem.

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:46 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:25 pm
So I wind up in this case at a spot I know very, very well: not sure.

YMMV. Let me know where I have gone wrong.
I also find that the "ὕστερον" is not very meaningful. Luke could have changed that independently of Matthew. imho Marks "ἔσχατον" sounds a little bit apocalyptic.

imho the main reason for the low informative value of the pericope is that Luke apparently went his own way and was eager to address the question of marriage.

However, the little "οὖν" in Matthew 22:28 and Luke 20:33 could also be counted as a minor agreement against Mark 12:23. It looks like Luke read Matthew and kept the word in his head

Matthew Mark Luke
ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει οὖν τίνος τῶν ἑπτὰ ἔσται γυνή ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει, ὅταν ἀναστῶσιν, τίνος αὐτῶν ἔσται γυνή ἡ γυνὴ οὖν ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τίνος αὐτῶν γίνεται γυνή


Post Reply